For professionals who have recently graduated from college, landing a permanent position in the career field of your choice cannot happen soon enough. However, choosing to gain experience in a contract position before making any long-term commitments may be a more prudent decision that pays off exponentially in the long run.
If you are a recent graduate eager to apply to the first job you stumble upon on the market, consider these benefits of working a short-term, flexible position first. You may be surprised at how much there is to gain.
While you may have just spent the better part of four years learning the ins and outs of your desired career field, actually performing the duties of the position on a regular basis will be an entirely new experience. One great aspect of initially accepting a contract job is that you can test out a career to see if it truly is a good fit for you.
On the other hand, if you are uncertain that you chose the right field to pursue a degree in, a consulting job allows you to test drive a completely different position before going down a career path that you are not sold on. For example, you may have gotten a degree in education, but a contract position in sales would allow you to see if you are better suited for a job in business. Even if you determine that a career in business isn’t for you, you can leave feeling more confident of what you are looking for in a permanent position.
Most college graduates walk away with a decent amount of student loan debt. Taking a consulting job right after graduation can be a wise choice because it allows you to start bringing in income and paying off bills immediately, rather than waiting months to find your ideal position. Additionally, having some form of income grants you the freedom to take your time in finding the perfect job for you, instead of making a rash decision and accepting the first one you see.
Contract positions can save you an enormous amount of time, effort, and money in the long-term as well. By trying out a consulting job in your desired career field, you can decide if it is in fact the right field for you. If it is, you can move forward with further schooling, confident that you are learning about a field you are interested in. If it is not, you can prevent thousands of dollars in additional student loan debt and countless hours of hard work from being wasted on a job that you will ultimately regret choosing.
The fact that consulting jobs are intended to be short-term is one aspect that makes them so appealing. If you find your dream job while you are working a contract position, you are aware that it will end soon and can plan to transition appropriately. Likewise, if you are not completely satisfied with your contract job, you know it will not last forever.
Temp jobs are also strong resume boosters, because employers can see that you took the opportunity to learn more about a specific field and build experience. This looks better than becoming a professional job hopper where you start and stop several jobs you didn’t like. Most employers won’t mind that the job was short-term because that is expected with any temporary job. What they’ll focus on is what you gained from the experience.
Another huge benefit of contract positions is that they may lead to full-time work. Some companies use consulting jobs to test out positions and candidates. If you enjoy your consulting job and the company finds a need for that role full time, you may be considered as a candidate with experience in the position. Not all consulting jobs have the possibility of converting to full-time roles, but even short-term contract jobs can give great experience and a reference from an employer.
At the end of the day, there is one factor that outweighs even the most obvious benefits of working a contract job: valuable experience. Short-term positions not only give you real-life on-the-job experience, they also allow you to build connections with people in your field, acquire invaluable knowledge, and make lasting professional connections that could result in a full-time job offer from the company you work for. Even if your consulting job does not result in a permanent job opportunity, the experience gained will be sure to strengthen your resume and credibility with future employers.